Website New Layout: Step Two

The advice I am sharing here is geared toward personal and startup blogs. Anyone with a professional or ecommerce blog: Hire a professional developer or purchase a theme geared for professional use.

I had to get a new theme.

I started this website using the old “default” theme that was based on the Kubrick WordPress theme. It was about as basic as I could get it while I was working on my PHP and CSS development skills.

This is my screenshot for step 2:

This still needs QUITE a bit of work, but the menus, and some of the errors I left until “later” have been cleaned up a bit. The layout is improving from step 1.

Why it’s good to go with a theme that is close to what you want:

The trouble with basic though, is that I am constantly having to sort of “re-invent the wheel” just to add special features to my site. This definitely helped me learn a LOT, but because I ran out of time to do all of the coding, as you can see my site got neglected! :(

I went to the WordPress.org Free Themes Page and decided to go with a sort of veteran theme called: Mystique.

I really like Mystique because it has the menus with drop-downs and some really decent social media integration. (Some integration that you would have to massively dissect current widgets to reproduce. Believe me, I’ve had clients who have seen options like ones on other Mystique blogs that were only available because they were hardwired into this theme. – I had to reinvent the wheel again for those)

Why it’s bad for professional websites to go with a theme that is free and used on other websites:

As of this morning, Mystique has been downloaded more than 7,000 times! (That is from wordpress.org alone, it isn’t counting all of those that have been downloaded at Digital Nature’s Website – the author of Mystique!)

That means there are thousands of copycat websites out there that look exactly like this ->

Don’t let yours be one of them!

Now comes the fun part.

Customization

Remember this if this is the first time you’ve heard it:

Changing your WP site layout is NOT just as easy as changing your theme!

WordPress is tricky, something that sounds so easy can turn out to be untangling a web of code to find the code that you need to be moved with you when you move to a new theme! If you aren’t sure about what you are doing…

BACK UP EVERY SINGLE FILE IN YOUR ORIGINAL THEME FOLDER!!!

Do NOT attempt to change your website template unless you know how to make sure you will still have the custom code to watch your traffic, update your rss feed if you use a service like feedburner, or even just keep track of your branding items like: favicons and logos. Next week I plan to edit my layout colors and add my logo back in. :)

Fixes, Adds, and Re-Adds:

☑ My favicon

☑ Google Analytics code

☑ Nav menus: I love navigation menus… They aren’t the easiest thing to write from scratch, so that’s one of the main reasons I was pleased with Mystique for my personal blog.

☑ New (more generalized) categories: I added some better “parent categories” including: “Business, Entertainment, and Technology” I left “Life in General” as a main category for my nav menu.

There is still MUCH to do, but I am finished for tonight. See you next week!